At an auction in Berlin, a bidder pays the "highest price" ever offered for a painting in Germany. The acquired work is a self-portrait of the expressionist Max Beckmann. It had been privately owned for a long time.
The painting "Self-portrait yellow-pink" by Max Beckmann has been auctioned in Berlin for a record price of 20 million euros. With taxes and fees, the work changed hands in the evening at the Berlin auction house Griesebach for 23.2 million euros, as a spokeswoman said. This makes it the most expensive work of art ever auctioned in Germany. The painting is a masterpiece of German Expressionism and was previously in private ownership.
"20 million euros is the highest price that has ever been offered for a painting," said auctioneer Markus Krause at the end of the auction. The highest auction price to date for a work of art auctioned in Germany was achieved in 2018, when Beckmann's "Die Ägypterin" was sold for 5.5 million euros. The auction proceeds for the "Self-Portrait Yellow-Rose" did not exceed the previously estimated value of 20 to 30 million euros. "No comparable work has been offered on the German auction market since 1945," Griesebach expert Micaela Kapitzky said before the auction.
Beckmann painted the now sold work in 1943 in exile in the Netherlands, where he had fled after the National Socialists took power in Germany. In the painting itself, however, there are no direct references to the world situation at the time. He gave the picture to his wife Mathilde Kaulbach, called Quappi, who kept it until her death in 1986. It was then part of a Swiss collection and was not seen again by the public until the 1990s.
Born in 1884, the painter is one of the most important artists of the 20th century. The value of his works of art has exploded in recent decades. His painting "Hell of the Birds", which is one of his most important anti-Nazi statements, was auctioned at Christie's in London in 2017 for 41 million euros at the time - never before has a work of art of German Expressionism paid so much. Beckmann died in New York in 1950.